NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans need an impact pass-rusher. If they commit to Zach Mettenberger as their quarterback, I think a premier outside linebacker for their 3-4 will rank as their biggest need, though the list will be long.
Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory would be a candidate near the top of the draft. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks he can play on his feet as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Productive Missouri DE Shane Ray could be more of a 4-3 end at the next level.
To me, months away from the draft, the best scenario for the Titans is to have a top-two pick and deal with someone determined to get a quarterback who is in love with the guy still on the board -- Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston.
If the Titans stay put or move back just a slot or two, as much as they need an impact defender, the best impact player might be Alabama receiver Amari Cooper. He's a precise route runner, and coach Ken Whisenhunt has spoken a great deal this season about imprecision in the Titans' routes and technical trouble with Tennessee's receivers.
"He's an outstanding football player," Kiper said in a media conference call Thursday. "He had a couple games late in the year where he had some uncharacteristic drops, but he's a hard worker, he's precise with his routes, he's got very good hands. He'll attack the ball and catch it, and he runs well after the catch.
"To me, he's a top-five pick; he's No. 3 on the [Mel Kiper] Big Board. If he drops a little further than that, it's only going to be because he's not 6-3, 6-4, he's not Julio Jones or A.J. Green. I've been comparing him to Marvin Harrison. Marvin Harrison had a heck of a career at Syracuse and a heck of a career in the NFL. If he's like Marvin Harrison, the team that drafts him is going to be very happy."
As for guys who could be quality OLB pass-rush options for the Titans later in the draft, Kiper points to Clemson's Vic Beasley (who Kiper has 15th), Georgia's Leonard Floyd (17th) if he comes out, Kentucky's Bud Dupree (second round), Washington's Hau'Oli Kikaha (second round), Harvard's Zach Hodges (third or fourth round) and Oregon's Tony Washington (third or fourth round).